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Troll Traveler's Blog

Date: 2011-06-25
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Discover Beijing China

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Anyone planning a vacation to China will want to include a significant amount of time discovering its huge and fascinating capital city, Beijing. A misunderstanding of the Chinese pronunciation of this proud city’s name resulted in the name ‘Peking’ being used by westerners for many years. But in modern times, there’s no misunderstanding this great destination and the wonderful discoveries that make it a must-see on any visit to China.

Beijing is a place of delightful contrasts, with the ancient and the modern co-existing peacefully among the hustle and bustle of millions of residents and tourists going about their day. It’s an exciting and busy place, and offers visitors an endless array of things to see, do and experience. From practicing Tai Chi with locals in a city park, to riding the crowded Beijing Subway, to standing in awe in the center of the vast Forbidden City, you’ll find it hard to run out of ways to have fun and be enthralled.

Sightseeing choices in Beijing are mostly of the historic variety, but there are plenty of other diversions, too. In a single day you can explore the 9,999 rooms of the Forbidden City, take a refreshing boat ride across a lake to visit the Summer Palace, travel by rickshaw through the narrow alleyways of the Hutong, and shop-until-you-drop at a local Friendship Store, street market or silk factory.

You’ll also want to stroll in massive Tiananmen Square and for a real thrill, stand in line to pay your respects to the glass-enclosed embalmed body of Chairman Mao himself. Before leaving Tiananmen, spend some time watching the locals flying kites high above, and perhaps buy a kite and try it out yourself! In the evening, you can head out and mingle with the locals in a neighborhood noodle restaurant, or try something a little fancier with a grand Peking Duck dinner followed by a colorful performance of Chinese Opera.

Hiring a registered Chinese guide or taking a professionally operated tour is the best way to see all that Beijing has to offer. Navigating the city on your own can be confusing and frustrating, and unless you are a native, you really don’t want to drive in this busy and hectic city. One tour you won’t want to miss is a day trip out of the city to visit the Great Wall of China. The wall is only about an hour out of town, and many tours make a day of it with stops for lunch or even shopping at a jade factory on the way back to the city center.

There are a couple of different places you can visit the Great Wall. The Badaling wall is a little touristy, but it does offer a cable car which can be helpful in getting up to the wall if you have trouble walking or breathing. The Great Wall at Juyongguan is a little more physically demanding, but less crowded and more authentic.

With all these great attractions, you won’t have any trouble deciding what to do in Beijing. Whatever you choose, you’ll love this very Chinese city that is said to be the best glimpse you can find of what modern China is all about. Enjoy your travels to Beijing and beyond!

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